In the minds of many, Wayne Gretzky is the greatest hockey player to ever live. He holds a whopping 60 NHL records. His 2,857 career points are 970 more than the second place player, his long-time teammate Mark Messier. The Great One's 894 goals are 93 more than Gordie Howe and his 382 playoff points are 87 more than Messier. Many of Gretzky's records will likely never be broken. As the game's best player, he was the hero of millions of Canadians who grew up loving the game of hockey and he helped to grow the sport south of the border.
Often times people choose to put their favorite athletes, like Gretzky, on a pedestal. They rejoice in their hero's achievements and ignore their flaws and failures. They make them out to be something bigger than they are, someone deserving of worship, someone to be idolized, someone to be a role model. They ignore the fact that their heroes are just people and at the end of the day, being a superior athlete doesn't free one from making mistakes. It's something we're witnessing right now as two men who have been accused of rape, Patrick Kane and Kobe Bryant, gather praise from people for their athletic achievements while their past transgressions are either ignored entirely or mentioned as merely a footnote.
Gretzky hasn't had any of his own legal problems, but he's far from perfect. He's a human being, he puts on his pants one leg at a time just like everyone else, and he's had some bad moments in his life, just like everyone else. There are many things that fans would like simply like to forget about Wayne Gretzky and instead focus on just his good moments. Here is a look at the top 15.
15 He Is a Bad Babysitter
14 He Avoided the Draft
Nowadays a highly touted prospect would never get away with manipulating his way around the NHL Draft to avoid joining a bottom feeding team, but the Great One did so in 1978. Gretzky chose to turn pro at the age of 17 and signed with the WHA's Indianapolis Racers. He played eight games with the Racers and then had his rights sold to the Edmonton Oilers where he played one WHA season before the franchise was absorbed into the NHL.
13 He Could've Been a Jet
12 He Was In Favor of Invading Iraq
11 His Former Kings Owner's Legal Problems
10 He Supported Stephen Harper
9 He (Allegedly) Ran Luc Robitaille Out of L.A.
8 That His Number is Retired by Your Favorite Team
7 His Time in St. Louis
6 Operation Slap Shot
5 His Coaching Tenure
4 His 2006 Team Canada Selection
When Canada's men's hockey team won their first Olympic gold medal in 50 years at the 2002 Winter Olympics, Gretzky got much of the credit as the man in charge of putting the team together. He was given the job once again for the 2006 Olympics and chose to keep the bulk of the previous team's aging core together rather than transition to a younger team and both Sidney Crosby and Eric Staal were left off the roster.
3 His High-Stick on Gilmour
2 His Benching in the 1998 Olympics
The 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan were the first Olympics to feature NHL players. Gretzky was named to the Canadian team, but was passed over for the captaincy in favor of Eric Lindros. When it came to the semi-final game against Dominik Hasek and the Czech Republic, the two teams battled to a 1-1 tie before heading to a shootout.
1 He Could've Stopped the Trade
At the time of Gretzky's trade from Edmonton to Los Angeles and in the years since, many people have painted Peter Pocklington as the villain. After all, it was his financial troubles that forced the Great One out of Edmonton. The truth isn't that simple though. At the time, Gretzky was just one year away from unrestricted free agency and he, rightfully, wanted to become the highest paid player in the game. This left the Oilers little choice but to trade him away rather than risk losing him for nothing.
Had Gretzky been willing to sign an extension at a discounted price he could've stayed in Edmonton. Pocklington and then Oilers GM Glen Sather even offered to call off the trade prior to the press conference to announce the move, but Gretzky decided to go through with the trade, ending his time in Edmonton and all but ending the Oilers dynasty.
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